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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

his cousinship with Jean Margaret (Kennedy) Mitchelson through the Howland family

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
portrait by
George Peter Alexander Healy
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), author of such poems as Evangeline, is too well known to need any introduction here. His son, Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow (1845-1921), a painter of somewhat inconsistent achievement but enjoying a considerable reputation in his day, bequeathed $200,000 toward the acquisitions budget of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
    Longfellow and his brother and biographer, the Rev. Samuel Longfellow (1819-1892), were grandsons maternally of Peleg Wadsworth (1748-1829), a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1769, who afterwards worked as a surveyor, served as a brigadier-general in the Revolutionary War, and served from 1793 to 1807 as a congressman for Portland, Maine. More distantly through the Howlands, the poet was a sixth cousin of another eminent American literary figure of the period, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).

            ______________ (brothers) _____________
            |                                     |
       John Howland                         Arthur Howland
    = Elizabeth Tilley                 = Margaret (----) Walker
            |                                     |
      Desire Howland                       Deborah Howland
     = John Gorham                       = Lieut. John Smith
            |                                     |
      James Gorham                         Hassadiah Smith
   = Hannah Huckins                      = Jonathan Russell
            |                                     |
     Experience Gorham                     Deborah Russell
 = Thomas Lathrop/Lothrop                 = Benjamin Allen
            |                                     | 
    Elizabeth Lathrop                       Dorothy Allen
  = (2) Samuel Bartlett                   = William Wilcox
            |                                     |
    Elizabeth Bartlett                     Benjamin Wilcox
       (1753-1825)                           (1737-1816)
= Gen. Peleg Wadsworth, Jr.               = Elsie Lanning
    (1748-1829) (see DAB)                    (1739-1805)
            |                                     |
    Zilpah Wadsworth                        Daniel Wilcox
       (1778-1851)                        (ca. 1771-1857)
 = Stephen Longfellow (IV)               = Mary McIntyre
    (1776-1849) (see DAB)                    (1775-1816)
            |                                     |
 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow          Jemima Wilcox (1801-1876)
       (1807-1882)                  = Francis Comfort (1800-1880)
  = (1) Mary Storer Potter                        |
  = (2) Frances Elizabeth            Margaret Comfort (1833-1916)
         Appleton                  = John Kennedy (IV) (1832-1897)
            |                                     |
          (by 2)                    John Kennedy (V) (1862-1939)
 Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow        Susanna Samantha Helena Young            
       (1845-1921)                           (1882-1937)
         painter                                  |
        (see DAB)                      Jean Margaret Kennedy
                                    = Richard Harry Mitchelson    
                                        of Winnipeg, Manitoba
                                     (my natural grandparents)

Sources: Longfellow’s Howland descent is presented in its entirety in Gary Boyd Roberts, Notable Kin: an anthology of columns first published in the NEHGS NEXUS, 2 vols. (Santa Clarita, California: Carl Boyer, 1998, 1999), 1:182-3, 185. This corrects a false ancestry of the poet’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Bartlett, which appeared (whether for the first time we cannot say) in John Osborne Austin, American Authors’ Ancestry (Providence, R.I., 1915), 60, and which has been widely disseminated, being reproduced for example in The Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Andrew Hilen (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1966–), I, chart III.
    In an attempt to refute Austin’s account, we pointed out in an earlier draft of this page that the 1883 Wadsworth genealogy (p. 47), whose author should have been in a position to know the facts, states that the grandmother of the poet was born 9 Aug. 1753 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and that the lack of reference in the text to her parentage made it appear unlikely that the date was contrived to fit some preconceived theory. We also noted that this date found acceptance in the late Elizabeth Pearson White’s excellent unfinished Howland genealogy, which Elizabeth Barrett a daughter of Samuel Bartlett and Elizabeth Lothrop, but does not discuss the matter in detail. We later discovered decisive confirmation of the point in Levi Bartlett’s Genealogical and Biographical Sketches of the Bartlett family in England and America (1876), p. 76, in which the author quotes a letter from Anna (Longfellow) Pierce, the poet’s sister, citing family papers in the possession of her second cousin, Mrs. Caroline Dunton (Doane) Rand. This resolves any possible doubt that Elizabeth Bartlett was in fact born 9 Aug. 1753, a daughter of Samuel Bartlett, of Plymouth, by his wife Elizabeth Lothrop.
    In preparing this page we have consulted the following sources:

  • Elizabeth Pearson White, John Howland of the Mayflower, the First Five Generations (Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1990, 1993 [all published]), 1:1-8, 9-12, 20-1, 73-4, 292-5.
  • Levi Bartlett, Genealogical and Biographical Sketches of the Bartlett family in England and America (Lawrence, 1876), 76, citing a letter from Longellow’s sister regarding their Bartlett ancestry.
  • Horace Andrew Wadsworth, Two Hundred and Fifty Years of the Wadsworth family in America (Lawrence, Mass., 1883), 42-49, 224-25.
  • Sketches of Longfellow, his son Ernest, his brother Stephen, his father, and his maternal grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, in the Dictionary of American Biography.
  • Reproductions of paintings by Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow on the AskArt.com website (http://askart.com/).

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From the Genealogy Page of John Blythe Dobson
URL = johnblythedobson.org/genealogy/famous/Longfellow.html
This page written 25 April 2001
Last revised 8 September 2001